Sexual Violence is not Your Fault
Please know that whatever you are feeling is normal. It may feel confusing, and we want you to always know that you are not alone. Friends and family members of the survivor can have similar reactions. If you or a loved one want to talk through some of these feelings, this is the reason our 24-hour Help Line exists. Please call anytime: 316-283-0350 or 1-800-487-0510.
PARTICIPATE IN YOUR OWN HEALING
Remember, you have already been through the worst of times — the actual experience. As you begin to allow yourself to rethink about what happened to you and let go of feeling like “damaged goods,” you will move closer to leading your own best life.
- Make it a priority to take care of you
- Take time out to do things that you enjoy
- Learn a new hobby
- Spend time with friends
- Find a support group
- Get outside
- Plant a garden
- Talk to someone and tell your story
- Look for a therapist that has experience working with survivors of sexual abuse/violence. Sometimes the story of sexual abuse can feel overwhelming to both you and others.
- It’s OK, and in fact important, to move slowly. Remember, you have been living with this difficult story for years, there are no quick fixes! Pace yourself and share with someone who will encourage and support you.
- Ask your therapist to provide you with assignments to work on between sessions.
Our 24-hour Help Line is answered by Safehope staff and trained volunteers. The Help Line provides emotional support, crisis intervention, information and referrals, and problem solving to victims of sexual violence, as well as their significant others. The line is open to anyone who has questions or issues related to sexual violence.
- I don’t really remember what happened. What can I do?
- If you are unsure of what happened to you, and might be concerned you were sexually assaulted, you have a couple of options you can explore:
- You can go to the hospital (either Wesley or St. Joe emergency departments) for a forensic examination. The exam can tell you if you have any physical effects that might be left from a sexual assault. NOTE: physical exams cannot tell you exactly what happened, they can only tell you if you have any physical evidence left on your body.
- You may want to talk with friends or family who might have more information about your activity during the time you are unsure of what might have happened to you.
- You may want to talk with an advocate at Safehope. Our free and confidential Help Line is always available. Call anytime day or night and we can explore your options with you. 316-283-0350.
WHERE SHOULD I GO FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION?
You have the option to seek medical treatment at all local Emergency Medical Department (ER). Some hospitals have SANE/SART (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team) departments equipped to provide medical care for victims of sexual assault, violence and abuse.
- Harvey County Area – Via Christi St. Joe Forensic Nursing Services and/or Wesley Medical Center SANE/SART
- Marion County Area – Newman Regional Health SANE/SART
- McPherson County Area – Salina Regional Health Center SANE/SAT
If you would like to see a forensic nurse, you would check in at the Emergency Department and ask for a sexual assault nurse examiner. An acute exam can be conducted within 96 hours of an incident. The sexual assault exam is designed to meet your healthcare needs and gather evidence of the sexual assault. The hospital will call an advocate anytime a survivor goes in for an exam. A Safehope advocate is there to assist survivors though the exam process, answer questions, and provide emotional support and safety planning.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- I experienced sexual violence as a child, are services available to me?
- For many adult survivors, childhood sexual abuse can have lasting influence on thinking, feeling, behavior, and relationships. Safehope provides a safe place for adult survivors who experienced sexual abuse as children to develop knowledge and skills for healing and change. If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, here are some helpful tips to dealing with your emotions.
- If I didn’t fight back, is it still sexual violence?
- Our culture has ingrained a stereotypical story of sexual violence in us. Most movies and popular culture portray a stranger attack on a victim who fights back and is both physically and sexually assaulted. While this does happen sometimes, this is not a realistic view of what most sexual assaults look like.
Whenever we talk about threatening situations, we often hear the words fight or flight. We forget to mention freeze. Freezing is an extremely common reaction to sexual assault. Many victims describe “feeling paralyzed” or experience “an inability to speak.” If you had this experience, please know you are not alone. And please know that freezing does not mean you consented. Sexual violence occurs anytime someone is forced, manipulated, and/or coerced into any unwanted sexual activity.
- Do I have to call the police?
- That choice is completely yours. You know what is best for your life and healing process. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. However, it should be noted that there are some circumstances that will trigger a mandatory report from certain professionals who are mandated to report. If you are under the age of 18 or if a gun or weapon was used during the assault, these things will prompt a mandatory report from some professionals. If you have questions about mandated reports, you can call our Help Line at 316-283-0350.
Making a report can be beneficial in a number of ways. Making a police report can help with:
- The offender being held accountable for the crime they committed.
- Getting reimbursed for unexpected financial costs associated with the sexual assault – through the Crime Victims Compensation fund.
- Feeling like you are taking back control of your situation.
We know that reporting can be an intimidating process. If you would like someone to accompany you, our advocates are available. Oftentimes friends or family may not be able to sit in on police interviews with a victim because they may be additional witnesses in the case. That being said, survivors of sexual violence have the right to have an advocate with them through the entire criminal justice process. We can sit in on interviews with you so you do not have to do this alone. If you would like to talk with an advocate about going through the reporting process with you, please call 316-283-0350 and ask to speak with an advocate about reporting.
- What is anonymous reporting?
- One option you have is to make an anonymous report with your forensic medical exam. If you are over 18, a weapon was not used in the assault, and you didn’t suffer any major bodily harm, you can go to an Emergency Departments and ask for an “Anonymous Sexual Assault Evidence Kit.” This means you can have forensic evidence collected and stored without making an immediate police report. This gives you time to think through your options, what is right for you, and get immediate medical care. If you change your mind later, you can report the assault and have the evidence from immediately after the crime occurred.
- What if I knew the perpetrator?
- Despite what we often see in the media, MOST people are sexually assaulted by someone they knew or trusted. In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knew the person who assaulted them. Perpetrators might be family members, friends, intimate partners, or acquaintances. Regardless of your relationship with the perpetrator, we will believe you and support you.
- What if I was drinking or using drugs when I was assaulted?
- Alcohol and drugs do not cause sexual assault, although many times perpetrators will use them as a tool to make their victim more vulnerable. If you were victimized while you were under the influence, please know that it was not your fault. If you were using illegal drugs or drinking underage, please know that sexual violence is a much bigger crime. You deserve to be safe—always. We will believe you and support you every step of the way.
WHAT IS ADVOCACY?
VICTIM ADVOCATES are professionals trained to support sexual assault survivors through the aftermath of a sexual assault. Whether the assault happened an hour ago or 25 years ago, advocates can offer victims information, emotional support, and help finding resources. At the Safehope, we provide a wide range of advocacy services.
As a survivor of domestic violence, you deserve advocates who will listen to you with compassion. We will listen, and we will believe you. With your permission, your guidance, we will offer all appropriate support. Please remember. You control all of our advocacy services. You’re in charge. Completely. Always.
If you were recently assaulted and you want to make sure you have the appropriate health care you need after an assault, advocates can help you through that.
Whenever a survivor checks into one of the hospitals and requests a sexual assault forensic exam, an advocate is called out to respond. We do not work for the police and we do not work for the hospital. Advocates are there to support the survivor through their time at the hospital. We can answer questions, find resources, listen, and safety plan. Advocates can also be there, at your request, for any follow up medical care you might need.
HELP LINE ADVOCACY
If it is 3 A.M. and you need someone to talk to relating to domestic violence, for you or a loved one experienced, you can call an advocate.
The Safehope Help Line operates 24-hours a day and 365 days a year. We respond to calls related to domestic &/or sexual violence. You can call us anytime. Every call is answered by a live person. You can call and ask questions, explore options, or just talk through what you need to.
If you are meeting with a detective, testifying in court, or need a protection order, and you want an advocate to assist you, you can request one by calling the Safehope Help Line at 316-283-0350.
The Advocates primary job responsibilities include assisting and accompanying survivors as they navigate the entire criminal justice system and protection order process. From a police interview to a jury trial, our court advocates can be with you every step of the way.
If you would like to sit down and meet with an advocate one-on-one but you have problems with transportation or other barriers that make it difficult to come in to the office, you can call an advocate to meet with you.
Safehope has outreach advocates who specifically provide services to populations in Harvey, Marion and McPherson counties We have an outreach advocate that reaches the Spanish-speaking community, people in poverty, people with addictions or who are in recovery, college and university students, the LGBTQ community, and people who are incarcerated. Even if you do not fall into any of those categories, you can still call and schedule a time to meet with an outreach advocate. We can meet survivors in a public place that is convenient and safe for you.
If you want information about support groups, therapists who specialize in treating trauma, or strategies for coping, you can call an advocate.
Should you need assistance outside the scope of our expertise, we will recommend support services elsewhere in the community. Safehope advocates will support you at any time, at any place in your healing process. Advocates are not here to tell you what to do; we are here to support your decision-making process and to make sure you have all the options available to you. You know what is best for you. You know what is best for your safety and healing. We are committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality.